Chapter 17: Guns & Roses (5)
The next day, Miao Yuan went to the café to gift Momo the zenggao and confide in her about her dream-like dating experience. Listening to her, Momo laughed inconspicuously, “Having to endure the dark of night, the clouds have finally parted to show you the brilliant moon hidden within.”
Miao Yuan smiled sweetly.
The nearby office buildings had just opened up a year ago, and business in the cafe suddenly boomed. The boss had recruited Milu, a young cook in his early twenties, to help out. He appeared gentle and cute, and specialized in Italian cuisine.
Miao Yuan and Momo had at first pretended to be good, well-mannered women. But they quickly discovered that underneath Milu’s refined exterior, he was actually a gossip through and through. Thus, everyone dropped their pretenses and quickly became closer. They all allied in the battle against their boss.
The fairytale-like first date had raised her expectations as to what was to come. Not even a few days had passed and Momo began hearing this girl complaining:
“Tell me, why do you think Chen Mo never takes the initiative to call me?”
“Tell me, why do you think Chen Mo never texts me to ask me what I’m doing?”
“Tell me, when Chen Mo can’t see me, does he miss me?”
“Tell me, do you think Chen Mo knows I’m always thinking about him?”
“Tell me, should I tell Chen Mo I’m always thinking about him?”
“Tell me, if Chen Mo knew I’m always thinking about him, would he take me for granted?”
“Tell me… Chen Mo…”
Momo rolled her eyes skyward. She felt like she was about to start vomiting white foam!
“If you miss him, then just tell him!”
“I don’t want to!” Miao Yuan played with her finger self consciously. “I’m a girl. Why does it always have to be me who takes the initiative? Would it kill him to give me a call first!”
“I don’t think it would kill him…” Momo looked gently at Miao Yuan, “I just think that if this continues any longer, you’d die from all that complaining. I’d also die, from you annoying me to death.”
Miao Yuan let out a faint sigh. Oh love, you really make people happy! You really make people sad!
But that age-old question of whether love brings happiness or sadness should be temporarily set aside. Momo thought that with love, you either stick to being reserved or stick to being a loudmouth. If you’re a loudmouth by nature, don’t pretend to be reserved. That’d just be hurting all parties, including yourself.
Miao Yuan tearfully asked, “Momo, then what type am I?”
Momo looked her up and down. Brimming with warmth, she grasped Miao Yuan’s hand and said, “Darling, to be honest, being a happy shrew ain’t a bad thing!”
Miao Yuan clenched her jaw. She knew there was truth to what Momo said.
One option was to just stick to taking the initiative. In any case, Chen Mo had a good temperament and let her have her way. The other option was to resolutely leave him on the tenterhooks and let his heart ache.
The worst was where she was now: keeping score in the relationship. She was waiting for him to make a move, yet she couldn’t bear the wait. The so-called splendor of entanglement. Her worries wound around her heart so many times that they formed a bouquet.
Isn’t that why they say a maiden in love is poetic? And aren’t those poems always nonsensical—superfluous and full of those winding thoughts?
While Miao Yuan was busy worrying, Chen Mo had entered the year’s hectic period. Since it was the end of the year, important figures all payed a visit to show their closeness, much to the dismay of the low-level soldiers, who had to receive person after person, crop after crop. Those people were like garlic chives come autumn, an endless field to scythe. Chen Mo was in charge of the detachment leader’s trump card: five elite squads. Every passing person wanted to pay a visit. The torment nearly drove Chen Mo and his squad mad.
Chen Mo wasn’t as socially adept as Xia Minglang. Some things were hard to say aloud, so he would let them slide and go with the flow. But people are not made of iron; they get tired. When the weather got chilly, his old wound would act up and his Achilles tendon would faintly ache.
While speaking on the phone that night, Chen Mo rubbed his foot.
Miao Yuan asked, “What are you doing right now?”
Chen Mo passingly said a few words, but who knew she would take it to heart.
Back in her student days, Miao Yuan didn’t learn biology well. After half a day of studying, she still couldn’t remember where the Achilles tendon was. She reckoned she should heed the saying: Treat the symptoms, not the cause1.
Early next morning, she went to the grocery store for pig trotters and half a catty of beef tendon. She hauled them back to the shop and tossed them in a slow cooker with peanuts, soybeans, and the like. Previously, the slow cooker languished in the shop, only to be used for making congee as a midnight snack.
Who knew that peanuts and pig trotters would produce such a fragrance? The lunch-time customers all eagerly asked, “What’s the new product this time? What’s that smell?”
Miao Yuan was too embarrassed to confess that it was something for her own use. Instead, she told a bold-faced lie, saying it was a stew for Christmas. After simmering for over three hours, the soup started to thicken. The delicate bubbles burst with a blub, blub.
Milu had misplaced Miao Yuan’s evaporated milk into the freezer. After finding where it went, she thawed it. But the oil and water had somewhat separated. Miao Yuan was suddenly inspired. She poured some in and stirred. It still seemed to lack flavour though, so she added a vanilla bean. Things started getting out of hand.
It simmered till almost dinner time. The stew brewed into a nightmare of deliciousness. A customer couldn’t endure it anymore and came over to ask, “What smells this good? I don’t care about the price. How about you just give me a bowl.”
As she looked at the customer with a pained, sorrowful expression, Miao Yuan was like Eugénie Grandet2 with his green eyes.
With a wave of her hand, Momo decisively robbed Miao Yuan of a half a bowl of stew.
Soon enough, Momo and Milu were licking the bottoms of their bowls and sighing in content. Momo said, “Miao Miao, I sometimes feel like your Chen Mo lacks a brain. Why don’t you fill that empty hole by cooking something for him tomorrow too?”
Miao Yuan coldly raised her cake knife. “Watch me chop your devil head off with this knife!”
Momo gave a high-pitched laugh and hid behind Milu.
Miao Yuan couldn’t keep simmering the stew. This den was full of wolves. She filled a thermos and fled.
Momo chased her to the door and laughed, “Miao Miao, why don’t you get a sex change and take me as your wife!”
Milu followed, jeering, “Miao Miao, why don’t you not get a sex change so that you can take me as your wife!”
Miao Yuan ground her teeth. From afar, she flipped the middle finger.
Momo laughed till she was out of breath. Raising her right hand, she responded with an OK sign.
Miao Yuan almost fell over.
Today, the sentinel at the gate was one of the soldiers who had tasted Miao Yuan’s cake. His honeyed tongue called out, “Sister-in-law, I’ll call the captain for you.”
Chen Mo’s voice over the phone sounded somewhat occupied. “What’s the matter? I have a meeting right now. Everyone’s waiting.”
Miao Yuan suddenly felt a little empty inside. She merely said, “I brought you something to eat. Come over and pick it up. I’ll leave right away.”
“All right.” Chen Mo hung up with a click.
Miao Yuan stared blankly at the receiver in her hand. At this moment, her enthusiasm, like fire, was extinguished in half.
Chen Mo quickly came over, sprinting the whole way. His head steamed with heat.
Miao Yuan handed him the thermos. “If you’re busy, then head back first!”
Chen Mo nodded, whispering, “Thank you” before turning to leave.
Miao Yuan stood in front of the door, straining her neck to watch Chen Mo as he ran into the building and out of sight.
He didn’t turn around.
Miao Yuan was disappointed. It was as though she had lost something.
Note from the team: Below is the fake chapter we had released for April Fool’s. We hope you enjoy both!
- Be reactive rather than proactive; instead of wondering why he feels sore, she should do something to make him feel better.
- Huangqiao sesame cake is a sesame seed cake that usually has filling.